! Reader-inspired post alert !
You know how much I love reader-inspired posts.
You know what else I love? Reader-inspired eBooks.
Yup, my FREE How to Fix Anxiety eBook was inspired by a reader who wanted me to help him overcome his life-consuming anxiety. I spent months putting that eBook together, and when I sent it to the reader, he was ecstatic. It was so helpful he shared it with all of his friends on Facebook! eBook = success!
Other readers have found it helpful, too. You should read it. Even if you don’t have anxiety. Because I bet you know someone who does, and my eBook will definitely give you a better understanding and deeper sense of empathy towards those who suffer from chronic angst.
ANYWAY, what I’d like to point out is that my dear readers give me better ideas for posts than I ever have on my own, which is why I love ASKING for feedback. Which is exactly what I did in last week’s post. And holy hanna, did you give me some ideas! I’ve got enough content to roll out posts for weeks!
I am ALWAYS looking for new blog post ideas, by the way, so please make sure you send them to me whenever an idea strikes your beautiful brain!
Thank you to everyone who sent me emails, texted me, commented on my Facebook post, and commented on the actual post last week. Your suggestions are incredible, and now that I know what you want to hear, I can give you exactly what you want!
Like this adorable kitten post, for example.
Here’s the original request. It came from my wonderful Grammy. You know, the one who keeps giving me self-awareness epiphanies and sharing her infinite wisdom with me.
“I would love to read a blog about kittens-their antics, their preferences, their play, their eating , etc. Photos are welcome too…..maybe you can find/write some feline poetry!”
Isn’t she just the cutest? Do you have an adorable Grammy of your own? I just LOVE mine.
And I love her suggestion to write a kitten post. Because, did you know? I have been obsessed with felines my whole life.
In fact, my mom still calls me “kitty,” a childhood nickname I earned from having such an intense affinity for tiny felines.
No, I’m not embarrassed to share that my mom calls me “kitty.” That nickname has never embarrassed me because cats are f*&^ing awesome.
If you don’t like kittens, you might as well close your browser tab now.
Because from here on out, it’s going to be CAT BONANZA.
I’ve actually never met a Kitten Hater in my life. I’m certain they don’t exist. If you exist, identify yourself in the comments. At your own risk. Because you’ll probably encounter some Kitten Hater Haters in the comments, if you do.
But, I mean, how could anyone hate this?!
So, to answer my Grammy’s request, I am going to dive into the worlds of cathood and kittenhood.
What does it mean to be a kitten? What do they think? What do they worry about? Do they have hopes and dreams?
The only way to answer some of those questions is by staring a kitten straight in the face and assuming the answers.
I’ll leave the loftier ruminations up to you.
Today, it’s straight-up FACTS, accompanied by pictures of my two adorable kittens.
Kitten and Cat Facts
Let me start off by asking you an important question.
Have you ever stared a kitten in the face?
If not, I highly suggest finding a kitten and staring it right in the face. For two reasons.
- Nothing will bring you greater joy this year than doing so.
- Kittens stare right back.
Which is reason #873 why kittens are awesome.
Do me a favor and try to stare your dog in the face.
It’s a little intimidating, isn’t it?
Trust me, the dog agrees.
Dogs don’t LIKE to be stared in the face by humans. Nor do they like to be stared in the eye by other dogs, I’m pretty sure. I’m not going to look up the answer because this is a kitten post.
Now grab your kitten and stare it in the face. If you don’t have one, go get one. You won’t regret it.
Do you have your kitten now?
Good. Stare it in the eye.
Does the kitten look extremely bored?
Or mildly curious?
Or at least not bothered enough to look away?
If a cat is avoiding your gaze, you’re probably acting sketchy and you should knock it off.
Another reason a cat might be avoiding your gaze is because you are simply boring him to death.
Interestingly, some people argue that staring at a cat is the only way to connect with it. These people argue that “cat kisses” are all the rage for getting a cat to like you.
What is a cat kiss? Apparently, it involves locking eyeballs with a feline and then slowly blinking.
This somehow demonstrates to the cat that you are friend, not foe.
I’ve never tried this, but feel free to use this tactic in attempt to tame that feral cat running around your neighborhood.
And let me know if it works.
In the meantime, I’ll be locking eyes with this gem.
When I try to make fierce eye contact with my boxer/mastiff, Ava, she just gives me the side-eye before whining and whining and then leaping at my face because she hates when I tease her with my human staring dominance.
I also blow gusts of wind at her across the room when I am bored.
I also poke her while she sleeps.
I also flip her ears backward to make her look weird so she feels embarrassed.
But this is not a post about Ava. This is a post about kittens.
Did you know? Cats are NOT nocturnal.
There’s your mind-blowing fact of the month. You’ve been wrong your whole life about felines. Don’t worry, we’re all wrong about felines.
Felines keep to themselves and leave us humans out of the cat magic, so most of what they do remains a mystery to us.
It’s just that we humans like cats SO MUCH because they are everything we are not, so we try to convince ourselves that we understand them when we are actually terribly stupid in cats’ eyes.
Cats are cool, mysterious, aloof, cavalier. Cats encompass all of the qualities humans are always trying to pretend they have when they do NOT have those qualities.
PEOPLE FACT: People like people who don’t talk very often, because silence implies you’ve got something WORTH keeping to yourself.
Learned that in college. It’s fact, people.
You see, humans have an innate and irresistible urge to share things with other humans. We are social creatures.
People who talk constantly (me) hold no mystery.
People who say few things come off as DEEP POOLS OF INFINITE WISDOM.
Because secrets are tantalizing. Which makes quiet people tantalizing.
What’s going on in that brain of yours? – we wonder this when we are around “people of few words.”
We like people of few words because they are more mysterious than we are.
Not as mysterious as cats, though. And especially not as cool as the Cool Cat on my Cats of Greece t-shirt (a decade-old gift from Grammy I STILL wear for obvious reasons).
Anyway, cats are not nocturnal.
FACT: Cats are crepuscular.
Crepuscular = most active at twilight.
Twilight = dawn or dusk.
Twilight also = an amazing novel and movie which is decent but not even close to as awesome as the novel.
Did you know? I gave a speech about the Twilight book series at GRCC way before the movies were even discussed, simply because I was so obsessed with the novels. And everyone sitting at their desks rolled their eyes when I shrieked, “Just you wait, these books are going to blow up and movies will be made!”
Anyway, it is her crepuscularity that is causing your cat to stomp on your eyelids at 5am.
And it is her crepuscularity that is causing your cat to lie around like an adorable slob at 1PM.
It’s not like your cat is trying to ruin your life. It’s just that cats are like bats and bats are way cooler than you, too.
Except cats are not like bats.
Cats are like cats.
Except for this cat. She is exactly like the bat from FernGully. I call her FernGully because her ears are twice the size of her head.
Giant ears or not, cats can do way more things than you can.
For example, have you ever wondered why your cat is staring at you with its mouth open?
I HOPE you’ve had a chance to witness this behavior in a cat, because it is absolutely hysterical.
The first time I saw a cat stare at me with its mouth wide open was when I gave my cat, Ziva, a toy filled with catnip.
I named her after Ziva David, the most badass NCIS agent in the history of time.
Anyway, I gave Ziva this toy, and I was expecting her to just go nuts for it, or get extremely stoned, as I had seen on the internet.
And while she didn’t exhibit any sluggish behaviors, she did do the weirdest thing with her mouth.
She just held it open. And she kept it that way.
And she looked up and stared at me, and it was like she was laughing. Or smiling in a very creepy way.
And it was absolutely HILARIOUS.
So, of course, I googled why my cat was staring at me, mouth gaping open.
FACT: Cats have an organ called the “Jacobson organ” in the roof of their mouth behind their teeth.
FACT: When cats open their mouths while smelling something, this is called the flehmen reaction.
The flehmen reaction is something cats do to learn A TON OF INFORMATION about whatever they are smelling. They take air in through their mouths so that is passes over their Jacobson organ. This allows for scent molecules to become trapped by the Jacobson organ where they are processed and sent to different parts of your cat’s brain. Yeah – different parts of the brain than those parts that the REGULAR olfactory (smelling) organs connect to.
This means that, when your cat opens her mouth while smelling something, she is learning FAR MORE INFORMATION about whatever she is smelling than if she had merely sniffed with her nose.
Which is reason #340 why cats are way cooler than us.
Now, let’s focus on kittens and food for a moment.
When we took our two beautiful kitten babies home, they wouldn’t eat anything, at first.
This resulted in a panic-filled evening of Brooke researching everything she could find on the internet that pertained to how to get brand new kittens to eat cat food.
We finally surmised that our struggles were due to the fact that our kittens had not been weaned from their mother’s milk.
So, we were trying to shove real food down the throats of kittens that only knew how to eat through suckling from a mama cat’s teat.
Which was problematic for us, since all we had were cans of wet kitten food.
I contacted everyone I knew for advice, and finally, my veterinarian aunt advised us to calm down because cat’s won’t purposely starve themselves, so our kittens would eventually eat when they grew hungry enough.
But being the overly protective kitten mothers we are, my mother and I were not satisfied with this. So we kept trying to get them to eat.
We tried and tried.
We repeatedly set the little babies in front of plates of cold milk, warm milk, cold wet food, warm wet food, milk-soaked, warmed-up dry food…nothing worked!
Finally, I swiped my finger through a pile of wet kitten food, grabbed the calico kitten, and waited.
Because the calico was the crybaby of the two. Incessantly mewing, this one.
So I held her and waited for a mew.
And when it came, I shoved my food-topped finger right into her tiny kitty mouth, mid-mew.
And she was not pleased.
She licked and licked while she squirmed to get away. And I held fast.
I swiped my finger into the food again, presenting it to her on a fingertip.
And she licked it!
And that is the story about how I force-fed our kitten into submission.
FACT: Shoving food into your kitten’s mouth mid-mew will encourage the kitten to eat cat food.
Here’s a picture of the problem child who wouldn’t eat.
Her name is Callie. Since she has calico fur.
How original, you think.
I know, I know. We don’t call our kittens anything other than, “ooo look a kitty!” and “fluffy nugget rainbow droplet,” so real names are somewhat superfluous at this point.
The kitten who only had an eating problem initially and hasn’t had a problem since is named Gracie.
Because she’s gray.
Deal with it!
Here she is attempting to eat the porcelain off a plate of food she practically inhaled.
Both kitties experienced a learning curve discerning which things are edible and which are not.
Gracie thinks everything is edible. Because she is a pork chop.
Which we call her all the time because this cat is CONSTANTLY EATING.
And when she is not eating, she is searching for food.
Another interesting point about these two kittens is that both of them still exhibit suckling behaviors.
For example, when these kittens eat wet food, they sometimes “suck” on the wet food on the plate.
It’s like they don’t realize that they need to bite and chew, sometimes.
Moreover, both of these kittens exhibit bizarre “suckling” behavior on non-food – you know, that thing kittens do where they massage their paws alternately while nuzzling their snouts into your clawed-apart flesh?
Our kittens do it a LOT.
And that is because we took these kittens from their mother before they were weaned off of her milk.
We didn’t know this, obviously! It’s not like we’re some greedy kitten stealers.
We would have taken them even if we HAD known that they’d only ever had mama’s milk. Because they had teeth and were definitely old enough to be separated from mom.
We just might have spared ourselves some of the getting-them-to-eat-stress had we known what we were up against.
Another thing that continues to surprise us: the bizarre “nursing” behavior both cats exhibit on blankets/our fragile skin before we can peel them off.
When I babysat the kittens for a week at my apartment (they live at my mom’s), I woke up twice to the calico kitten sucking on my earlobe and digging her claws into my scalp.
FACT: If cats are taken from their mothers at too young an age, or if cats are not weaned properly from their mother’s milk, they may exhibit inappropriate suckling behaviors later on in life (like sucking on blankets, pillows, your face, etc.).
NOTE TO EVERYONE WITH PREGNANT CATS: Feed your mama cat in front of her baby cats as soon as they sprout teeth so they can mirror mama’s behavior and learn how to eat hard food before being shipped off to unsuspecting owners who can’t for the life of them get their cats to EAT anything.
Our cats are fine, and so will your kittens be if you currently can’t get them to eat anything because they weren’t weaned from their mother’s milk.
Try the ol’ shove-food-in-mouth-mid-mew tactic. It works!
If you suspect that your kitten is too young for hard food, here are some tips for feeding your kitten from a bottle/syringe to get nutrients in the kitten while you wait for them to mature to the point of being able to consume real food.
And, of course, take them to the vet. I am not a veterinarian nor an expert in cat matters by any means. I merely have a strong affinity for felines and have acquired the cat knowledge to match.
FACT: Kittens like to chew through electronic cords while teething because the soft rubber casing is gentle on sore gums and delightful to saw through with incoming adult teeth.
Protect your gadget chargers, people.
Another teething-kitten tip: keep your knitting materials out of reach.
Teething-kitten tip #2: store your books on your highest shelves.
FACT: Kittens taken from their litters too soon may have trouble developing appropriate social behaviors.
For example, if your calico cat is biting her way through your index finger, this may be a cat who is still learning how to bite in a playful and appropriate way.
Callie has since learned how to gnaw gently, but her nibbles drew blood, at first.
She’s learned to chew appropriately thanks to her sister, who she has had the pleasure of chomping on since birth.
Which means Gracie has had plenty of time to ABRUPTLY STOP PLAYING with Callie when Callie nearly severs her tibia.
Kitten tip: you should not let your cats scale your legs, because it is too painful to be adorable.
We got a 2-for-1 deal on kittens when we found these two gems.
Which leads me to the most important kitten fact.
FACT: Two kittens are ALWAYS better than one.
We had no idea how true this was until we took TWO babies home with us.
And thank goodness we did, because we can’t imagine life without BOTH of them.
Think about it: cats are so easy to maintain. They automatically know how to use the litter box.
In fact, this is how you train a cat to use a litter box.
Step one: Place kitten in litter box.
Step two: Watch kitten use litter box.
Step three: Never worry about potty training kitten again.
Since you have virtually zero responsibility for cats, getting two kittens makes the most sense.
Plus, your kittens will always have a playmate.
If one is being a jerk and ignoring you, you might have better luck with the second one.
You can leave them alone for hours and know they have each other to gnaw on.
You can take adorable pictures of them snuggling each other.
You can take adorable pictures of them spooning and smushing each other’s faces.
You have ample opportunity to find them sleeping in the most adorable places.
Two kittens are ALWAYS better than one. Trust me on this.
Another important tip: you should never limit the caloric intake of your kittens.
NOT because fat kittens are cuter than skinny kittens.
But because kittens grow like crazy.
And they need all the food and sleep they can get during their kitten hood years to ensure this growth transition is as smooth and effective as possible.
You certainly don’t want an underdeveloped kitty.
I suggest leaving a bowl of food out 24/7.
And I also suggest not poking your kittens while they sleep. Kittens need rest. Way more rest than meatloaf Ava does, which is why I poke her.
LOOK AT THIS. I CAN’T EVEN STAND THE CUTENESS.
And this. Kittens are without a doubt the most adorable item on the face of this planet.
So there you have them. Cat and kitten facts to store in your kitty pockets for life.
And now, to bring this full circle and answer my Grammy’s initial request…some kitten poetry.
If you wish for a life that is blissful and smitten,
then I highly suggest obtaining a kitten.
For few things in this world induce more awe
than a teeny tiny fluffy kitten paw.
Your nights may be long and your skin scraped up,
but in a few months, your kitten will shape up.
But don’t wish away all of the stalking and pouncing,
because limited are the days of kitten flouncing.
Behold your fluffy nugget and snuggle her tight,
and enjoy her curious whims with utmost delight.
Pick her up and hold her even when she squirms,
because with lots of kitten handling, a lap cat you will earn.
Do not ever attempt to train your cat,
because you are the one in training, you can be sure of that.
For owning a cat means relinquishing control,
and pining for love your cat will capriciously withhold.
So find one and love her and bring her sister home, too,
because kittens in pairs hold a soul together like glue.
Do you have kitten and cat tips you’d like to share? Facts I missed? Please share them (along with pictures of your own felines) in the comments!